Midnight, Part III


aria_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif francois_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif steyr_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Midnight, Part III
Synopsis The third team of Apollo's Shield invade the Amundsen-Scott Antarctic Research Facility in the hopes of locating Wagner's prisoners, but an unexpected twist almost derails their mission entirely.
Date January 16, 2010

Amundsen-Scott Antarctic Research Facility

Incidentally, it's warm. More or less.

You know, in comparison to the snow desert outside, anyway, cold enough that it feels like it might flay the flesh off bone. Under the cover of the illusioned slaughter of themselves and their friends, Shield Three's task of breaking into the facility is the easy part. It's their first mission together and possibly their last, and Veronica is taking dutiful point for the eclectic team — a Company agent, a cop, an ex-Company agent and exish-cop, and a French Resistance soldier.

The low ceiling and tiled floor sandwich in Shield Three where they cluster in the corridor, with lockers lining one wall, tightly sealed doors of gleaming metal for temperature control, and it's distinctly empty. This place seems like it should be able to provide for teems of people, but they wander the corridors of a ghost town, using Elisabeth's ears to track ahead of them for sign of life. Fluorescent lights hang from the exposed ceiling, lending more than enough light for all that they haven't seen a window since heading for the mess hall, their steps quiet, and the radio Veronica has with her is quiet too.

Francois glances back to Elisabeth — they probably feel this is somewhat familiar, creeping through the hallways of the monastery. "The mess hall is just ahead," he says, checking the sidearm in his hand. "Beyond that, the storage spaces."

One of the things Elisabeth is here for is to keep her team's movements absolutely silent without impeding THEIR ability to hear what's going on around them. It requires a little bit of focus, but not so much so that she can't also do other things. Unless of course, she's required to try it in a firefight — that could get problematic. But for now, all we're doing is walking. Which also allows her to enhance the sounds coming at her from ahead. "There are… perhaps a half dozen people in the mess hall eating. Cutlery, heartbeats, it sounds 'normal'. For all that's worth." She has her rifle in her hands, the sidearm in its holster. If it gets down to handguns, things have gone really far south. "We could go about this a couple different ways. Truth be told, from here, I could make the whole room full of them land on the floor in about ten seconds — These are most likely just some of the staff, right?"

The cliched movie quote "It's quiet. Too quiet," comes to Veronica's mind, as her dark eyes sweep the hallway, left, right, ahead, repeat, her gun held out in front of her ready to shoot anyone who might jump out of nowhere and surprise the team, hindering their progress to the two Chinese Evolved's hiding place. They've already gone over the plan. Tranq the two Chinese Evolveds, have Magnes lighten them so they can evacuate quickly without the excess burden of unconscious bodies. If there is any trouble, they will take more drastic measures.

She glances over her shoulder when Liz speaks, and swears lightly under her breath. "Shit, I was hoping it would be easier than that. Never is. All right. Weapons out, shoot to kill or at least knock out, in case any of them are willingly feeding him power," she says to the team. "I'll move in closer and try to take a few out before they see us… the rest of you be ready to hit the aftermath." She begins to sneak toward the door, weapon coming to eye level to aim.

Keeping his rifle pointed out, following a mixture of his police academy and Company training, he's looking out for anyone who may suddenly attack as well. Though when Veronica mentions shooting, he shakes his head. "Elisabeth said she can drop them with her ability, maybe she should do that. Seconds after that attack, I'll run in and weigh anyone down who's still moving, then we can knock them unconscious." He's trying to avoid excessive killing, if it can be avoided.

The cafeteria is all but empty, when it comes into Veronica's line of sight when she creeps up to the door, circular windows affording her a glimpse — rows of square tables, pristine clean and empty of people. Elisabeth wasn't wrong, however — five men are seated in a cluster together at the far side of the cafeteria, and if they're armed, it's hard to tell under bulky clothing unwilling to be shed, though one man with his back to the door has the lines of a shoulder rig over his sweater, jacket flopped over the back of his chair. Plates are mostly empty, cups of coffee are still steaming. To the right of them, at the furthest wall, is a set of double doors, gleaming silver, and another singular door towards the left, the one that leads away — if it's locked, it won't matter for anyone who isn't trying to escape.

Such as Wagner's men. "If they are Wagner's, they would kill you if they had the chance," Francois states without looking to Magnes, replacing sidearm with rifle on cue with the girls. "But if it works…?" A questioning glance to Elisabeth, silent question as to her power's capability.

Elisabeth is not in the mindset of debating what's going to be done in the middle of a time-critical mission run where anyone walking around freely in this facility is presumed to be on the side of the Vanguard. To be quite blunt about it, killing the whole fucking lot of them doesn't bother her one little bit in this instance. She slants a glance at Vee, who is the official team lead, and merely waits for her call with a single brow raised in query about which route they're going to go.

When Veronica gives the hand signal to indicate she sees them and she moves to line up her shot, Elisabeth shifts her position and slinks in next to Vee. "I'll take right, you go left," she murmurs to the agent. "You'll get at least two shots before they figure out which direction to look in — if you're a good shot, it means that we'll take 'em down before they can make a lotta noise. One, two, … " She's aiming for the head shot of the man on the right with his back to her. And on "… three," she starts firing the automatic weapon in her hand in three-round bursts. The gunfire is ridiculously loud within their vicinity, but it is absolutely silent except for the breaking of furniture and the squishy sort of pulpy explosion sounds of bullets ripping through bodies in the mess hall.

The agent just gives a shake of her head to Magnes. "Follow," she says quietly, despite the silence that shields them, thanks to Elisabeth. She nods at Liz's arched brow — Veronica will explain the issue later if Varlane wants to argue, when they're all safe and Munin is no longer a threat, and she'll accept the guilt that comes with any innocent blood staining her hands on this mission when it might mean the end of the world if they make a mistake by giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. With one more glance back at Francois and Magnes to ensure they have their weapons ready in case the two women need the back up, she turns her attention back to their targets.

At the count of three, the brunette agent aims and fires first for the head of the man with the shoulder rig, squeezing the trigger twice in succession; if she hits, she'll move to the next in line.

Following after Veronica and Elisabeth, Magnes lifts his legs up, flying quickly into the room, then extends his hand forward and pushes a cluster of weighted table and its chairs at the men who happen to be sitting; it's a hell of a lot better than trying to shoot with one eye anyway!

Just like that, two men are killed, heads coming apart like soft melon as one bullet slams fair into the back of the shoulder rig wearer's skull and sending him folding down, the other having the unfortunate timing to turn his head as Elisabeth's bullet goes piercing through, taking with it a good chunk of jaw and the ceramic coffee mug he was holding up to his mouth — blood and coffee alike are dark liquids that explode along with shattered skulls and brain matter.

"Holy shit!" shouts one of the remaining three, chair toppling as he scurries away, blind to wherever the hell that came from, the eerie noiseless of the attack making him about as useful as a panicked chicken as he gapes down at the two corpses. The other two men get an easy line of sight of their attack, moving in efficient tandem. A table is upended, one disappearing behind it as a chair topples over it, and the other is fast making his way towards the double doors opposite Shield Three. A table goes spinning through the air, crashing into Mr. Panicked Chicken, who is slammed to the floor with a grunt.

A gun is pointed from the runner towards the doors, and a deafening blam sounds out through the room, evading Liz's bubble of silence from the runner, but the shot goes awry when he leaps out of the way of a table thrown by Magnes's gravity. Still alive, though, he's quick to fire off two more shots towards the group, eyes wide.

Francois is last out, rifle fire ringing in their ears as he looses a handful of bullets towards where one had taken shelter beneath the table, puncturing through wood and plastic, and there's a howl of pain from that direction. He starts to fire off towards the man between themselves and the door, but instead ducks out of the way when those two bullets are fired.

As soon as Magnes goes over the top of them, Elisabeth is ducking out of the hall and to the right along the wall. It means she's open to being shot at, but that's what the body armor's for. The three gunshots of the one guy who got off any shots are going to definitely draw attention if anyone's nearby. But his death under the hail of bullets that once more spits silently from the muzzle of her rifle should take care of that problem. With at least four of those five people down, Elisabeth moves quickly and efficiently between the tables, heading for the door at the far end. The reason is twofold: One, it puts her in a good position to peek through that door (as well as listen for any footsteps coming this way in response to the gunshots). Two, it puts her out of immediate sight and line of fire for anyone coming from that direction. Which may give her the element of surprise if baddies come pouring in. She leaves it to Francois to follow her through and finish off his guy behind the table, counting on him to have her back as she sweeps the room.

Veronica drops and rolls when the volley of panicked fire comes, coming to a stop near a table to use as a bit of shield, her gun training on the man running for the doors even as Liz takes him out. She'll have to give the woman a hip bump later — she knows how to use a weapon. "Go," she nods to Magnes to follow Liz, then fires more rounds into the table where the one man hides, then slowly walks toward it to ensure that either her or Francois' bullets have done the job.

Magnes keeps his gun held down slightly, running after Elisabeth. His heart's racing, and he's breathing pretty heavily; adrenaline is finally kicking in. "You hear anything ahead? Anything I can do?"

The crumpled corpse of the man who'd found cover comes into view when Veronica approaches, eyes glassy with death and body punctured with rounds from both she and Francois. There's a gun in his hand that was never fired, possibly because of the radio now lying on he ground away from his limp hand. If he got word out, well, there's no sound coming from the device — it's hard to tell. The man who'd been knocked flat by Magnes' table gives a groan — one that's rapidly cut out by silent fire from the Frenchman as he moves along with the group, green eyes taking in the partially wrecked cafeteria. Nothing but Shield Three is moving.

Ahead of them, Elisabeth will be able to detect heart beats through the grinds and clanks of the facility, and as the group moves at a rush past corpses and knocked over chairs and tables, coming up to the doors, the corridor ahead of them shows off rows of steel doors with mechanical locking mechanisms. The hallway is clear of life, the lights buzzing over head.

Francois settles his rifle under his arm, moving slowly down the corridor. It's further down the corridor that Elisabeth can hear the beat of hearts. More than just two. Without her ears, Francois briskly opens the nearest door, quick to point the muzzle of his rifle into the doorway, relaxing when he sees nothing but empty storage space. "I can stand guard while we look — there will be others coming this way," he offers, coming to a halt by the double doors still partially opened to the cafeteria they vacated.

Pulled up short against the wall, Elisabeth holds up a hand to pause Francois as he moves to head forward. "Good idea," she tells him quitely. She can't listen ahead of them and behind them at the same time. Closing her eyes to get a better feel for what's coming up, she points down the hallway to one of the doors. "Lot of heartbeats — way more than two people in there. Could be the rest of the research team. Only in that one room, though — the rest don't have heartbeats inside them, so assume they're empty." Hey, handy dandy little way to save themselves some time, right? Flanked by Magnes, she moves to the outside of that door and blows out a soft breath, expanding the silence field to encompass — she hopes — the storage room beyond the door. "I can't do anything else if I'm keeping a group this big silent, Sawyer," she tells Vee softly. "But if this is our group, we need the Evos to step up and let us tranq them. If it's the bad guys… it's going to be something like shooting fish in a barrel," she murmurs in distaste.

Magnes reaches out to place his hand against the door, trying to feel the overall weight and thickness of it, and possibly if that lock is something that can be popped away from the rest of the door, or at least forced unlocked; though if it's too small, things might have to be a bit more bluntly broken into. "I'm checking, I've never really done anything like this with my ability. I can break the door down, but I'm trying to see if I can sense the lock, or something… Wish Kazimir was here."

When Elisabeth redirects sound from the storage space towards her own ears, she catches snippets of murmured conversation. "…took Mei Shen while you were asleep."

"Oh— I hope she's okay."

"If she's okay, she's better off than any of us."

And silence lapses again — one can imagine such silences stretch long and frequent among prisoners held together for goodness knows how long. As for the lock of the door, it's the kind one finds on a freezer — shootable, if not impossible to yank out with gravity. The prisoners inside may be valued, but they're kept in a storage room at the end of the day. Francois remains in place, a glance back towards the group's progress, but otherwise hawkwatching their backs.

"Shit," hisses Elisabeth. "Mei Shen's been moved." She glances at Veronica. "The rest of these people are the researchers it sounds like." Struggling to keep the silence bubble in place around the larger area, silently blessing Conrad Wozniak one more time for teaching her some of the more intricate kinds of interactions with silence bubbles, Elisabeth says through the door, "Stand back from the door. We're here to get you out, but I need you away from the door so we can get it open. And when it does open, I need you folks to stay very quiet and move very fast. We won't be getting out of here alive unless you do. We're taking out the lock on the count of three." She doesn't give them a lot of time. "One. Two. Three." She looks at Magnes — his abilities are either going to come in handy or a bullet will. Either way, that door is coming open. Now.

There's an echoing "Shit" from Veronica at this news and she shakes her head. She squints at the lock. "It'll open with a shot," she says with a shrug, since the gravitokinetic isn't sure about whether he can or not. "Cho might still be in there, so we'll still have to tranq her, and any of them that are Evolved. If they know Wagner's using their abilities, they might do it willingly, but we can't take chances. Too bad that chick who's an Evo-senser isn't with us." She aims at the lock, making sure to point in a way that will minimize any tendency to richochet against the steel doors, then fires.

"I could have opened it, but I was making sure that was it." Magnes shrugs, then backs up from the door after giving it a light augmenting of gravity so it'll slowly swing open on its own. "If anyone attacks, I'll restrain them, don't shoot."

There's utter, disbelieving silence in response to Elisabeth's words, and the sound of shuffling instead. As the lock is cracked apart and Magnes tugs the door open, they're treated to the sight within. Even if anyone would attack, they can't— about ten or so people huddle in the room, lining around the left wall and the far wall. Metal shelving is cleared of anything, and the freezer hasn't been deliberately cold in a long time. The light blinks on as soon as the door opens, and ten sets of eyes stare across at the rescuers.

Duct tape binds their hands and their ankles, clothing marking them as civilian staff members of the research facility. One's ethnicity identifies her reasonably easily, though none of them say anything, but Elisabeth's eyes will track to what might be a familiar face — hair that's been dyed, a long time ago, sky blue is bound back from Aria's face, the telepath staring at the audiokinetic and letting only steam leave her mouth in sharp breaths.

Huddled among the others, amore vocal prisoner exhales a ragged breath when the door is forced open. Chocolate brown eyes stare up from the darkness of the room, and kneeling on the floor, bound like all the others, it looks as though the brunette is in considerable pain. Her shoulder is bandaged, and likely her arm should be in a sling, for the red color bleeding through the front of her shirt indicates an old wound that has since been re-opened. "Oh— Oh my God."

Inching forward, her jaw trembles as she squints against the silhouettes in the doorway, looking back to the others. Int his chamber, some of the prisoners have a vert visible, very obvious cue about them, a slithering tendril of blueish-purple light snaking off of their bodies for about a foot in length, pointing almost like a compass away from them, the same tendrils of light were seen radiating off of Mikhail Wagner when they first arrived at Amundsen-Scott.

But there's three people in here with this visual effect, and Aria is among them.

"Oh my God who— who are you?" The wounded brunette in question has no such energy tether coming off of her. "I— My name's Julia Steyr— " she hastily splutters out, "I'm the chief medical officer for the station. I— w— we have wounded people here. Oh my God please tell me you're getting us out of here."

In the moment or so that it takes Elisabeth to register Aria Baumgarten's presence, her blue eyes skim across the whole group and she grimaces. They're bound. Goddamn it. And then Aria's presence hits her, and she goes wide-eyed. "Oh, FUCK." Whipping her head around to Veronica, she says, "Sawyer, then tranq her first." She turns back and stares at Aria, another half second, and then throws her rifle over her shoulder and pulls her boot knife to start slicing duct tape off people in a hurry.

"~Listen to me, all of you. The man holding you here can take and use any Evo ability you may have. I know some of you don't want that status known, but we have no time if we're going to beat him and stop the nuclear weapon that he has in his possession from exploding. I need to know which of you are Evos so that we can tranquilize you and negate his use of your abilities.~" She cuts people's bonds even as she talks. And she's talking fast, infusing her plea with every bit of hypnotic suggestion that she muster, soothing and beseeching them to cooperate. "~We have helicopters inbound to get all of you out of here, but this man has every intention of detonating this warhead. Please, help us save your lives and the lives of everyone you love back home, and …. just raise your hands if you're Evolved.~" In truth, Elisabeth is actually wondering if they're going to have to tranq everyone in the room — because why the hell else would Wagner be bothered to keep them alive — but the tendril seems to be a giveaway.

"The one's with the glow," Veronica says softly, nodding to the three with the purple tendrils snaking around them. "Unless there is someone who is Evolved and Wagner isn't leaching from." To those beyond, she holds her gun to show that it is loaded with tranq darts. "We'll get you out," she says, apology for the incoming unconsciousness tacit in her dark eyes. She aims the gun at Aria first, then Cho, then the third prisoner who seems to be feeding Wagner with Evolved power.

She then speaks into her headpiece, "Shield Three finds ten prisoners, Shen is not among them, was taken from group previously." The agent turns back to the group. "Anyone know their powers? And is anyone else Evolved?" she says with a nod toward the two prisoners that are now no doubt beginning to slump from the darts. She glances at Magnes. "Make them light, float them out."

Magnes holds his hand out, causing the two to begin floating. "I can move a few of them, but it's probably safer if I just focus on two or three. I can make others light and physically carry them though…" Magnes looks everyone over, clearing his throat. "We're with the United States government, also here on behalf of the People's Republic of China. You'll be fine."

The tranquiliser is quick — merciful in that way. Aria seems to stunned to protest, going out like a light, and the other two are simply helpless as the darts find flesh and inject the numbing unconsciousness into their systems. The rest are warily standing up, and one of the scientists, tall, African American, scoops up the unconscious Aria, with a nod to Magnes. "You get the other two," he offers. Apart from those who had the energy tendrils connected, no one seems to be indicating they're Evolved, only shaking their heads when looked towards.

Over the SatCom, Veronica hears Teo's voice crackling over the radio connection, «Shield Two has Shen. Retrieval in progress.»

Meanwhile, doors shut — the ones Francois is standing at, the Frenchman catching the sound of distant footsteps and quietly sealing closed the metal doors to the cafeteria. Circular windows allow for some degree of peeking, and he has his legs bent enough to hide beneath it— and ducks sharply when he sees whatever it is he saw. A hand goes out towards the group, imploring them to not come any closer to the doors. His voice then whispers over their shared radio. «Saw three men head into the room, investigating.»

He'd say more, automatically willing to dispense orders, but closes his mouth and instead turns his gaze to Veronica — too many leaders in a group is a quick way to fall apart. He grips onto his rifle as if to brace himself to use it, depending.

"No!" Julia emplores with wide-eyed fright, a second too late as Veronica hastily darts all three prisoners. "No god— no don't do that!" The brunette tries to scramble on her knees to interpose herself to the others, and falls flat on her face, smashing her chin into the floor. "That man! The man with the abilities!" She lets out a keening sound of pain as the red spot on her shoulder grows larger, and she turns confusedly as her body begins to lighten, and she drifts weightlessly up into the air.

"They're linked with him somehow— if you cut them off it'll kill them, their— they can't handle the mental strain of the link being violently severed. They'll die!" That right there encites panic in the room, and frightened noises begin rising up from the prisoners, terrified sounds of confusion and disbelief. "Please— God don't— "

The three are already slouching over from the effects of the tranquilizer darts. "Christ," Julia whines out, "Jesus Christ cut me lose, please, I'm a doctor please for the love of God let me help them!" She's twisting awkwardly in the air under influence of Magnes' anti-gravity that lightens her load. The firing of the tranq darts, the confusion of what Julia's saying, and the general emotional edge the prisoners are on has them in a panic now. Some of them screaming and begging for their lives.

It's all very noisy.

Not. Good. But too late now. Elisabeth continues to cut people loose and she doesn't have to raise her voice to be heard. "ENOUGH! ~All of you, listen to me now. We do. not. have. time. for. this. shit. Grab a buddy, and everyone follow Varlane,~" she gestures toward Magnes. "~We're blowing this pop stand.~" Her voice is loud in the small space — far more than loud enough to get over the top of their weeping and wailing without even trying. And she enhances it as much as she can with calm, though her tone brooks no argument with its urgency. She glances at Veronica and says without the enhancement, "I'll take point with Varlane, you and Allegre at the rear?" If only for the same reasons that she helped lead the way in — being able to listen for anything ahead of us — but she's not sure if Vee will want that or want her in the rear to listen for pursuit.

"Just float the tranqued ones, Magnes, and maybe lighten those who are injured," Veronica tells the gravitokinetic when he mentions his limits. To Francois, she says into the SatCom, "«Cover us. We'll go through the kitchen.»"

She nods to Liz, then turns to the group of prisoners. "Come on, hurry," she tells the people in the freezer, reaching in to begin herding them out. To those who are panicking at what the doctor said, she shakes her head. "That man can't use their power if they're unconscious. It's a necessary sacrifice. We will do our best to revive them, but none of us are going to get out of here if he has all of their powers in his control. Come on." She begins to herd them out. "Stay quiet, move fast. Follow these two. Please."

She glances at the others. "Shield Two has Shen, so we don't have to go search for her, at least." That might ease some of the prisoners' worries. "Go, go, go," she adds to the prisoners, waving her tranq gun to indicate down the corridor toward the kitchen, rather than the way Shield Three came.

Magnes secures the two in an invisible link behind them like a train once he's eased them through the door, nodding to the man who takes Aria. He's right on the heel of Elisabeth, grabbing his rifle in both hands once more. Anyone who seems to need it have their weight reduced. "I'm sure there's something we can do when this is over…" he says more for his own benefit than anyone else's.

The scientists and staff are like herding cats, but the man carrying Aria seems to trust them enough. "Back up, Julia," he hisses. "Come on, everyone — we're getting out of here." This simple sentiment seems to be enough, for some, a couple of faces tear tracked but fearfully darting out of the freezer with some urging, glancing back to the cafeteria doors, then towards the kitchen. At Veronica's words, they make for the kitchen doors on Elisabeth and Magnes' tails.

Francois obeys, back still bent as he heads away from the doors, straightening up when he's a safe enough distance to not immediately be seen through the windows set into them. As Veronica moves to walk with him at the rear of the group, he speaks to the group hastily. «If we are pursued, two of us should hang back in the kitchen and clean up. Veronica and perhaps one other must lead the prisoners away, only she knows where to-»

It's around when Elisabeth and Magnes are pushing through the doors— a sweep of supernatural hearing indicates that the place is empty, all gleaming surfaces, kitchen islands, stoves, and a doorway headed for out— that the ones they left behind are bursting open, Francois pivoting to open fire with a deafening ratatatat. "Run!"

That's also one way to get everyone moving. Automatic fire punctures the swinging doors and the man who appeared at its entrance, collapsing when a bullet pierces his chest, his throat, but the silhouettes of others coming up behind him can be seenby those bringing up the rear.

Thankfully Kazimir had the foresight to arrange the team dealing with hostages to have someone who has handled hostage negotiation on it. Perhaps that explains the makeup of this particular team as well as it does, because Elisabeth's handling of the predicament seems to come with a certain level of precision and care that calms down some of the people, but the threat of death still makes them anxious. The injured captives mostly seem to have bumps and bruises, a few lacerations likely from a sharp fall where skin split, nothing severe— in fact no one is as severely injured as Julia.

When Elisabeth finally cuts her free, she tucks the arm moved by her wounded shoulder to her chest like a broken wing, and then looks over to Magnes. "W— wait, please, please just give me a moment with the ones you tranquilized!" Julia pleads, "for the love of God just let me see if there's anything I can do for— "

Gunfire causes Julia to shriek, ducking low and using Magnes something as a shield to the sounds of chaos behind them. "Oh God! Oh God!"

"NO TIME," Elisabeth reiterates for the doctor forcefully. And then she merely tells Magnes and the others, "Come on!" Since she and the gravity manipulator are in the lead and the way forward through the kitchens appears clear for the moment, Elisabeth heads that direction. This was not the preferred egress route, but she studied the blueprints of this place thoroughly with Cat, pinpointing ingress and egress routes for as many contingencies as they could. Keeping her listening abilities forward, Liz has to trust that Francois and Veronica have their retreat covered — the ten hostages in our possession are the goal. Liz has her assault rifle to the ready as she moves, though. No real need to be silent at this point, she can put all her attention on more offensive possibilities along with listening as far ahead as she can manage as she leads the way.

"Out the door, then a left, then down the hall," Veronica shouts ahead to Liz as she trains her weapon on the door waiting for the next wave. "Varlane, your floaters are good for about an hour right? Swap places with me, I have the schematic on the SatCom." She begins backing up, rifle ready to shoot anyone who appears in the doorway, so that Varlane can take her place at the rear at Francois' suggestion. Once he's in place, she will begin herding the injured prisoners and pulling the floating and unconscious Evolved to — hopefully — safety.

"Yeah, an hour, I've had more than enough time to set that up. Go ahead." Magnes leaves the two floating, then back flips, rotates around, and lands so he's facing in Francois' direction. "Francois! Press your back against the wall!" he calls out, then suddenly yanks a freezer door from the hinges, greatly enhancing its weight, then sends it flying toward the pursuing men.

Oh, Magnes.

When Julia is completely ignored by the gravitokinetic, he hardly even feels the touch of her hand moving down to his side when she's up close to him, doesn't feel the click of his handgun being slid out of its holster when he moves into freakish acrobatics and backflips through the air to land on the other side of the battle — when he leaves Elisabeth by herself.

Julia's brows furrow, the safety for the gun flips off as Julia takes a few steps back and just waits for Liz to keep rushing ahead to lead the group, keeping the gun hidden by her slim profile; Elisabeth has plenty of other things to worry about at the moment. Once Liz is moving, once her back is turned, Julia cracks a smile anfd lifts the pistol up with a quick burst of three shots fired at the former police officer's back.

The rounds impact with her light body armor, sending her toppling over from the force of the blows, slamming to the floor and skidding across the tile; air knocked out of her lungs and the feeling of a baseball bat across her spine reward for the lack of scrutiny afforded to miss Steyr.

The psychotic woman planted among the prisoners sweeps around to face the back of the team, not suspecting Elisabeth's body armor, and opens fire on the crowd, shooting through fleeing scientists that collapse bleeding — but alive — to the ground. Another shot rings off, nailing Veronica in the unprotected back of her right thigh, a second bullet impacting the back of her body armor and knocking her against a wall.

Julia's moving, feet against the floor in hard steps as confused screams come from the prisoners now fleeing from an entirely different set of gunfire. "Hurry up," she strains through her teeth to the security team on its approach. "Who the fuck are these people?"

Francois' back slams obediently into the wall, flinching as the freezer door goes zooming past, gasping at the feel of the wind from it — that is way too close for comfort. Zut alors, could be an interjection, save for the fact that Francois is actually French. He stares when the freezer door connects into two men who'd come around, winging against one of the corridor doors with a metallic clang, taking out the couple of men who'd come to check on their fallen comrade. Nice.

Moving at a run, Francois follows the group out into the kitchen, urging Magnes along— "go go, run, hurry"— before the sound of gunfire up ahead has him sliding to a halt, eyes wide. He sees the group scatter, fleeing the gunshots ahead of them. He thought there was no one ahead of them, surely Elisabeth would have said something— of course, he doesn't immediately realise who let loose those shots until he sees the woman standing with her gun.

Blam, goes the Frenchman's pistol, though it only skins past Julia's shoulder, piercing clothing instead of flesh before he's moving for the nearest fallen victim, ducking behind a shining kitchen counter. Hands come down on a bleeding bullet wound, hissing reassurances and encouragement as he glances over his shoulder.

They're still being pursued, but cautiously, the sound of footsteps coming up the hallway they departed.

Wha…??? *THUD* Elisabeth impacts the floor and slides out of control, tumbling against the wall with the air knocked out of her. She manages, somehow, not to lose the grip of her rifle, but it's useless as she dazedly struggles to suck in a breath. Oh fuck that's going to be some serious bruising. Rolling over, still breathless and voiceless, Elisabeth glares back in the direction of the psychotic bitch who is now shooting the hostages. Well, seriously now, that's one way to piss off the blond. Best part about audiokinesis — certain aspects of it do not require her to be at the center of the effect, they only concentration. And there is plenty of noise to be manipulated around here right now, what with all the screaming and panicking and shit. Gritting her teeth, Liz narrows her eyes and her focus on Julia while she works on getting to her booted feet slowly. It's not complicated, but it requires her full attention to weave what amounts to a silence field around the woman standing fifteen feet away and then invert the noise level, crank it up to excruciating levels — like make your ears bleed and your eardrums burst in your head levels — only inside the field so that Steyr is the only one affected. If she could explode the bitch's head, she would.

Suddenly, bursting over the SatCom in a moment of deep irony, Veronica hears Cat's voice: «Julia Steyr is Brynhildr! Find and kill her!»

The heat of pain flares through her thigh when Veronica is hit, falling back with a hiss as the bullet rips into her thigh. She gives two seconds to the pain, gasping for breath, then blasts a few rounds at the spy amongst them, aiming for the head, then the heart, and then the head again for good measure. Too late, Cat's voice comes over the SatCom, as Veronica scuttles back to find some shelter, and to aim for another shot if she didn't hit the woman the first time. "«Shield Three under fire»," she hisses into the SatCom. "«Anyone else or just her?»" So she can shoot any others before they can turn on them.

Magnes is quickly flying back in the direction of gunfire about a second after Francois says so, landing and aiming his rifle around. When Brynhildr seems to be handled, he aims his rifle at the other hostages. "Everyone get back into groups of two and wait for orders from her. Hands out of pockets." he orders, the 'her' being Veronica as he nods to her. "Anyone who does otherwise gets an arm ripped off, if anyone tries to do the same with the remaining arm, I shoot them in the head."

Were it not for the precision effect of a sphere of inhuman noises that is afflicted on Julia Steyr, the woman may yet still be trying to take down the Shield team. She drops her gun the moment the sounds take effect, a scream rising in the back of her throat in horrified quality, back arching and lips contorting to a look of anguish and pain. But then, just a moment later, her pain is taken away — permanently — by the decisive blow of two gunshot wounds, one that clips her at the right eye and demolishes the back of her head in a powdery red spray, the other that pinches thorugh her throat rather than her chest due to Veronica's shake aim thanks to the pain.

Shaky, but effective.

Julia Steyr collapses in a wet slap to the ground, pooling out a deep crimson mess around her body.

Blood shines slickly on the kitchen tile once Julia has finished her rampage, contributing to oily crimson and lying still once she's been taken down. The kitchen is filled with the quite sounds of weeping, footsteps, and so far, the door from the corridor remains closed. Elisabeth can hear the sound of approach from the other side, but they seem to be waiting, in a sense, or not eager to run into a dead on firefight with an Evolved in their midst.

It's a reprieve, but it's only a matter of time.

"You, help him," is Francois' quiet instruction as a more able bodied scientist moves closer to help pick up one of the injured that the former healer had been tending to, under Magnes' request that they all pair up. They do, slowly, healthy bodies with the injured, leaving Francois to move towards Veronica, offering out a hand. As for Cat's reply, static eats up words, but Veronica can at least glean one fact: negative. Julia is the only snake in the grass they have to worry about.

Francois spares a glance towards Elisabeth, worried for a moment — he'd seen her go down, and his question is silent. Is she able, or being brave?

Hauling herself to her feet, Elisabeth looks toward Francois grimly and nods slightly. She's okay. She'll be sore as hell once the adrenaline lets down, but her armor stopped the bullets from hitting her and she's starting to be able to gasp in shallow breaths now. Looking at the remaining hostages, she walks back toward Francois and Veronica. "Gimme a second," she rasps in a husky voice. She has never used her ability quite this much all at once, and she's not sure how she's feeling exactly. The adrenaline surge is helping immensely, though, as she stops to listen in both directions.

Looking at her companions, Elisabeth says quietly, "Ahead of us sounds clear. You guys get these people going. I'll bring up the rear this time." And then she waits for them to get themselves to their feet, round up the wounded, and get the hostages moving. Only once they're on the far side of the kitchen and the last of the group going through the door does she turn those blue eyes gone cold with determination back to the door behind us. Without having to worry now about her group of people, she grins wickedly and sings softly, "Juuuuuuuuust whistle while you work," and whistles the tune to that cute little Disney song even as she enhances the shrill sound high up into the ear-splitting sonic ranges guaranteed to make people claw out their own eyes and lets it flow down that hallway over every guard in there as she herself retreats slowly.

Taking Francois' hand to help haul herself off the ground, Veronica winces again as her legs bear her weight. She finally had both legs in mostly normal operating order after the last leg injury. At least the bullet missed the bone — it's not broken, she can tell that much, and she's not lightheaded enough for the femoral artery to have been hit — if that were the case, she'd be already passing out. "She's the only one," she repeats. "Thanks. Let's move," she says to Francois and then the others, limping with her weapon trained ahead of her, ready to shoot anyone in the hallways or anyone among them. "Hurry," she tells the passengers. "That's why she didn't want us to tranq them," she mutters, with a shake of her head. "I should have known." She glances at the Satcom to get a feel for the layout once more, and moves forward.

Magnes continues walking, keeping an eye on the hostages, though he notes Veronica and Elisabeth's injuries, or lack-there-of. Veronica will feel a bit of pressure around her wound, like someone just tied something around it, but he doesn't say anything, he just keeps going. "Where are we headed to now? I still have a full clip, I've been conserving ammo."

"Remain with Elisabeth, get those she does not," Francois instructs, a little breathless, watching to see if Veronica can move on her own and a breath of adrenalised chuckling at the woman's determined limp. Admirable enough. He lets her go, focuses on keeping the group together and allowing others to take up handling their pursuers this time. Out from the kitchen, the maze of corridors is disheartening, but between Veronica's memory and the map in the SatCom device, they can find their way easy enough. As they move, they can hear something in the distance — the sound of gunfire. Battle is underway for the other teams, that much is certain.

The piercing sound of the whistle coming down the corridor is enough to split heads. There's a sudden rain of automatic fire coming through the doors when it's kicked in just as that begins, the man's face screwing up in sheer pain, staggering to the side. Behind him, silhouettes variously drop their weapons and clutch their heads— others brave it, moving at a run, two, three men coming into the room and training guns on Elisabeth's retreat. One even has blood coursing from his ears when he opens frantic fire to make the bitch stop.

Suddenly, there's the feeling of a quake, rumbling through the floor and the walls — minor, not enough to knock people off their feet, but it rattles furniture and teeth, the thick glass in the panes of distant windows.

Elisabeth's assault rifle is spitting bullets even as the bastards come through the door too. When they shoot at her, she dodges back down behind a counter. Things shatter on the counters above her, but she is relentless in ratcheting up the sound levels beyond unbearable. All she's got to do is hold them here. As the earthquake starts rattling things, there is a moment where Liz fears that she herself caused that. Conrad's activities in the collapse of ConEd have ever been a question mark for her, though she knows the ability she weilds could cause such a phenomenon. But it doesn't feel like something she did. Which means all hell's breaking loose somewhere else and it's time to blow this joint. She throws herself back toward the door that Francois and Vee took the hostages, letting Magnes take his own barrage of shots before she ducks back through the doors with him, continuing to cover the retreat.

Making her way down the corridor with the small flock of prisoners, bleeding more than they were a few moments before and missing some from their ranks, Veronica glances at the SatCom to navigate. She's slower than she'd like to be, having to drag the injured leg behind her, and she misses Elisabeth by her side to be able to tell her if there's anyone in front of them. "«Brynhildr dead»," she pants into the SatCom. When the earth begins to tremble, she glances back questioningly. There's nothing to do but keep moving — outside will be safer than inside, at any rate, if it's an earthquake. She keeps moving, though at this rate, it won't be hard for those bringing up the rear to catch up.

Pots, pans, knives, they all go rapidly flying back, gravity enhanced, intending to bombard any men Elisabeth may have trouble with, then turns around to continue following Veronica and keep the hostages in order. "I don't know what's going on, but I hope that's not the sound of nukes getting ready to explode. This is all almost over right?" He sounds almost exhausted with the situation, anxious. It's time to go home, practice piano, make clothes, skate. Continue the 21 year streak of not getting laid at all.

A frying pan goes hurtling through the air, and sticks into the wall with the force of which it was flung. The sudden swarm of ultra-heavy kitchenware batters at the four, five, six men that have managed to get this far, one knife slashing a face open, a pot colliding with a skull, cracking it, dropping the pursuer.

Beyond the hallways, before anyone can answer Magnes, the lights wink out, throwing them into darkness — which is an answer in itself. "Shield One," Francois breathes out, squinting through the shadows. There's some light, distant windows, ambiant illumination that at least defines the edges of the walls, the corners, the doors. "Everyone keep a hold of each other, we are nearly there— "

There's a ping as a bullet ricochets off the wall above their heads, and the whole group suddenly surges forward like panicked cattle. The Frenchman grips onto Veronica's arm and hauls her forward as they rush around the corner. "How far?" he demands.

Not far. The corridor spills out before them, and finally, back up lights flicker on, illuminating the hatch-like door that resembles the one they had come from. "Magnes, get the door!" Francois yells, releasing Veronica in favour of urging the hostages past them, eyeing the hallway back down the way they came to see what survivor of the security team is dogging them. Meanwhile, there's the distant sound of metal groaning, of things— the things of giants— breaking, and the whole building shudders again. Something is happening — not a nuke, not an explosion, something bigger.

"It's —" right there, in front of them, Veronica's answer is cut off when the hatch appears in front of them, answering her question for her. She's a touch pale with the loss of blood. "Did they blow out more than they meant or … is this something from Wagner…" she pants out, gasping for breath as she follows the hostages, knowing she needs the extra time. "Hurry," she tells them, perhaps ironically, as they're moving faster than she is.

"Watch out!" Magnes exclaims, not about to get crushed in some place in Antarctica with his last mistake being some Valkyrie woman stealing his gun. He swings his rifle behind him, jumps into the air, then flies feet first, as heavy as he can manage, intending to slam the door open by force. He's not gonna let it fall, considering someone could be on the other side, but damnit, that door's coming open!

The sudden fwoosh of utterly breathtakingly cold air suddenly rushes down the hallway as fast as the strange Antarctic sunlight makes eyes squint. The hatch bounces off its hinges, revealing a metal platform with stairs leading down two storeys towards the ice shelf below, and in the short distance, they can see the promised helicopter guaranteeing home and safety. Hostages, spurred on, flood out the door, feet clattering down the metal stairwell, gripping onto themselves and each other against the terrible cold, but there's only so much distance to cover.

They're gonna make it. But what of the other teams?

The building shudders again, enough now to send Veronica tipping off her feet and Francois' shoulder crashing into a wall, the last one out. Two seconds, and then there's a series of automatic fire from behind them — but it's their own, the former Resistance fighter finishing off the last of the pack on their heels. As they climb down and away, the whole building seems to be falling somehow, pillars sinking into snow, the entire facility shrieking and groaning under its own weight.

For the record, this wasn't a part of the plan. The power plant of the facility is gone when they think to look, a gigantic hole in the ice shelf drawing in the rest of the buildings after it. They can see a small blur — Felix Ivanov running for the helicopter, bundled with two bleeding bodies.

"Run." Someone says it. Hard to tell who. As Shield Three herd their way for safety, it's almost unfair, finding freedom without the knowledge if they were successful, but at least, for now, they're alive.

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